Step 7: Determine when your brief must be filed.
You should receive a written notice giving you the deadlines for your briefs and the other party’s briefs, often called a briefing schedule. If you did not, contact the appellate court clerk to ask for one. Different states have different timelines for when appellate briefs are due, as well as different events that would start (trigger) the timing. In many states, the transfer of the record to the appellate court starts the timing. Typically, once the timing is triggered, the appellate court will send the parties a briefing schedule laying out the deadlines for each brief.
Many states, although not all, use the following schedule:
- The appellant has 30 days from the triggering event to file the “opening brief.”
- The appellee has 30 days from the time the opening brief is filed to file his/her brief.
- The appellant has 15 days from the date the appellee’s brief is filed to file a reply brief.
The appellate court’s rules, which are usually available on the court’s website, should lay out the timing requirements of the briefing schedule for your state. Many appellate courts have helpful guides that will direct self-represented litigants to the correct rules.